Undergraduate Study
McCormick Integrated Engineering Studies (MIES)

Engineering is the combination of timeless knowledge, such as the ability to think in terms of systems and analysis, and frontier knowledge driven by inexorable technological innovation. While the interests and aspirations of most undergraduate students in McCormick are well-supported by our departmental degree programs, some students have visions that motivate them to explore new, emerging connections between fields.

The McCormick Integrated Engineering Studies (MIES) program enables undergraduates to develop an individualized engineering degree program to explore new connections between existing academic fields.

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Why integrated engineering studies?

Engineering has traditionally been divided into sub-disciplines and organized within academic departments such as civil, mechanical, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, and others.

As organizational structures and names evolve to reflect new ideas and disciplines, the boundaries between sub-disciplines in engineering, and between engineering and other fields of studies (e.g., medicine, chemistry, physics, economics, earth science, and others) become less rigid.

Many career opportunities and advanced research efforts cross these boundaries and thus define new areas of application and study. Increasingly, key advances in both engineering science and its applications occur at or beyond traditional boundaries, at the intersections between engineering fields, and between engineering and other areas of expertise.

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Explore New Territory

MIES students put themselves on a mission to explore new territories, to address new and important problems, and to travel high-impact career paths. They are purposeful explorers with real targets, defined collaboratively with faculty and even outside guides.

Some recent areas of study created by MIES students include:

  • Mechatronics and User Interaction in Design Engineering - combining work in mechanical, biomedical, and design engineering
  • Technology and Design for the Arts - based on a program of courses that developed depth in graphic arts, communication, and elements of several engineering disciplines
  • Entrepreneurial Design - emphasizing the ways designed items can be carried into practice through the business world.

The possibilities for tomorrow’s MIES degrees are virtually limitless.

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About the MIES Program

The Integrated Engineering Studies program serves McCormick students who want to learn different things in different ways. It allows well-prepared undergraduate engineers to work with faculty mentors to craft customized engineering studies programs that take them into new, perhaps uncharted, areas of study and career preparation.

These programs must meet the basic McCormick requirements for an accredited engineering degree, but they can depart from the pre-defined tracks specified for degrees in a particular department.

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Program Requirements

  • Students must complete the application for and be accepted into the MIES program to pursue this degree.
  • A customized course of study must match, or exceed, the challenge level of any established McCormick engineering curriculum, in terms of its breadth and depth. MIES students, like all McCormick students, are expected to build substantial skills in the core disciplines of engineering, including mathematics, the sciences, analysis, and design.
  • Students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or above.
  • Students can apply as early as the end of their freshman year but no later than 3.5 quarters before the completion of the degree.
  • No more than two courses, within the major program, may be taken pass/no pass.
  • List of theme courses must be completed and approved in the McCormick Advising System (MAS) prior to submission of proposal.

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How to Apply

Develop and Submit a Degree Proposal

Students must create a proposal statement that provides a compelling argument as to why they qualify for this customized degree program. It must address these questions:

  • What is the focal area for the proposed MIES major?
  • Why is study in this area an important and valuable opportunity, in general, and for this student himself/herself, in particular?
  • What is the proposed program, in terms of courses, research, internships, etc.? This is to be a preliminary plan, subject to review, advice, and adaptation.
  • Why can’t such a program be pursued within the boundaries of existing departmental degree programs in McCormick?
  • Explain how the curriculum has, or exceeds, the caliber of an existing McCormick degree?

The statement should be approximately four pages in length, plus the proposed course selections for each of the eight distribution areas of all McCormick curricula, viz.:

  • Mathematics, 4 units
  • Basic sciences, 4 units
  • Engineering analysis, 4 units
  • Design and communication, 3 units
  • Basic engineering, 5 units
  • Social sciences/Humanities, 7 units [list of proposed theme courses must be completed and approved in the McCormick Advising System (MAS) prior to submission of proposal]
  • Unrestricted electives, 5 units
  • Major program, 16 units

This plan of study should be developed in collaboration with – and it must be approved by – at least one McCormick faculty member, after which it is submitted for review to the McCormick Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies. The Associate Dean will conduct this review with a faculty committee assigned to MIES oversight; revisions may subsequently be necessary.

Proposal Approval Process

Once an MIES proposal has been approved by the McCormick Curriculum Committee, it will go to the faculty committee in order to secure its recommendation to the entire McCormick faculty for official approval.

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Completing Your Degree

If the plan is approved, the Associate Dean, in consultation with the student and his/her faculty adviser, will appoint a steering committee to guide and monitor the student’s progress through to its completion. This committee will normally have three or four members, including the faculty adviser, other McCormick faculty, and as appropriate, faculty from other Northwestern schools, and/or outside mentors with special expertise in the area of study.

Prior to graduation, the oversight committee will certify that the student meets the degree requirements according to the study plan.

Advising and Monitoring

The MIES student will meet with his/her McCormick faculty adviser at least quarterly for progress review and course scheduling. 

Students who complete this program will be awarded the degree, Bachelor of Science in Integrated Engineering Studies, and their transcript will display the theme of their course of study.

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After McCormick

MIES students, like other McCormick students, should be thinking about and preparing for career opportunities throughout their period of study. This preparation goes beyond course work and includes research and service opportunities, and particularly internships and summer positions that build experience and expertise.

To accomplish this, MIES students are expected to go beyond their oversight committees to work closely with McCormick’s Office of Career Development to find those opportunities that will maximize the value of their undergraduate experience.